Why Boosting Cybersecurity Skills Is an Economic Priority for Europe


    Oct 31, 2022

    2023: The European Year of Skills

    On 12 October 2022, the European Commission formally approved that 2023 will be the European Year of Skills. This is a very exciting EU wide initiative that will seek to help address many of the challenges that Europe faces in the area of skills.

    The European Commission, together with EU member state governments and the private and public sectors, will intensify their collaborative activities in seeking to fulfil the following objectives:

    • Promote increased investment in training and upskilling to deliver the full potential of the EU workforce.
    • Guarantee that the skills developed are relevant for the workforce of Europe and create high quality jobs.
    • Ensure higher levels of participation from women in the labour market.
    • Address job shortages in Europe. 

    The transition of the European economy via digital transformation and through the implementation of environmentally friendly and sustainable measures will open up a host of new opportunities on the job front for the people of Europe.

    Digital skills are a central element of EU strategies

    The challenges facing EU policy-makers within the domain of digital skills is very real. The findings of the European Commission Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) 2022 has concluded that four out of every ten adults and every third person who works in Europe lack basic digital skills. It is therefore incumbent on EU governments and private industry to re-double their collective efforts to bridge this digital skills gap. Learning best practices from one another across Europe in the areas of skills development and upskilling must be an intrinsic facet of EU social and economic strategies moving forward. A highly skilled economy is a pre-requisite in building a competitive and sustainable economy.

    Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) 2022 concluded that four out of every ten adults and every third person who works in Europe lack basic digital skills

    A key investment that the EU can make is by further investing in its people by improving training opportunities and by enhanced skills and upskilling initiatives.  

    • The 2030 EU Digital Compass has set a key target that 80% of all adults in Europe must be equipped with basic digital skills.
    • There should also be 20 million ICT specialists employed in the EU by 2030.

    Addressing the cybersecurity skills shortage in Europe

    The World Economic Forum (WEF) is consistently stating that cybersecurity attacks pose a substantial global risk. The number of cyber-attacks taking place are increasing and are becoming more sophisticated. A key response from Europe and indeed in an international context must be to increase the number of skilled and qualified cybersecurity professionals. Addressing the cybersecurity skills gap and the cybersecurity skills shortage in Europe are of paramount importance.

    The 2021 ENISA report Addressing the EU Cybersecurity Shortage and Gap through Higher Education contained some interesting findings:

    • Key shortages of cybersecurity skills relate to application security, cloud computing security, security engineering, and security analysis.
    • Europe has to increase the number of cybersecurity courses within higher education and university systems.
    • More graduates in Europe must be trained and qualified in the area of cybersecurity certification.
    • Governments must do more to encourage women to take part in STEM (Science, Technology, Education and Maths) education, noting that only 25% of the cybersecurity workforce are women.
    • Public awareness needs to be raised about information security among students and teachers. 
    • Only 34% of EU cybersecurity related programmes contain internship opportunities.

    There must be a greater level of inter-action and co-operation between the educational, industrial, and governmental actors in identifying a tangible, strategic and practical manner that can best improve levels of participation in cybersecurity courses across Europe. As a case in point, the EIT (European Institute for Innovation and Technology) supports a number of different cybersecurity third-level courses in six countries in Europe, including Italy, France, Netherlands, Finland, and Hungary.    

    The role of industry in improving cybersecurity skills in Europe is key

    he objectives of the EU Digital Compass 2030 and the EU Skills Agenda can only be achieved with the full participation of industry. It is clear that more trained cybersecurity specialists are required to work in the EU to safeguard public and private bodies against cybersecurity threats and attacks. It is important that industry is involved and continues to play a key role in developing harmonised, technical, and certified cybersecurity standards. Industry must do more to support cybersecurity graduates to secureplacements within their respective business operations.

    In its cybersecurity and transparency centre in Brussels, Huawei announced on 26 October 2022 that it was expanding the Huawei Cyber Security Skills Bridge programme. This initiative will provide hands-on and practical learning internship opportunities for students from across Europe. The delivery of this internship scheme will be co-ordinated via the Huawei cybersecurity and transparency centres in Germany, Italy, and Brussels together with the Huawei cyber research centres in Munich and in Helsinki. Industry needs to do more to train young people so that cybersecurity threats can be effectively tackled – thus building a safer society for us all.

    Further Reading

    Disclaimer: Any views and/or opinions expressed in this post by individual authors or contributors are their personal views and/or opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views and/or opinions of Huawei Technologies.


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